Sociological Approaches to Urban Environmentalism and Compassion in Healthcare
HSE Assistant Professor of Sociology Ruben Flores, PhD talked to the HSE news portal about his presentations at the ASA and ESA sociology conferences this summer, about forthcoming sociology seminars at HSE and about why living in Moscow is interesting for sociologists.
— Could you tell us a bit about your participation at the American Sociological Association and European Sociological Association conferences this summer?
— I would say my participation in these two conferences was very fruitful. At the American Sociological Association, I gave a presentation at a roundtable in the section on Altruism, Morality, and Social Solidarity. It was a small but lively roundtable, where all participants were able to give one another feedback.
My participation at the European Sociological Association (ESA) was based on a distributed paper for a session organised by the Sociology of Health and Illness network. I was really pleased that quite a few people showed interest in the paper before, during, and after the session.
In both conferences, I had a chance to meet and catch up with colleagues, professors, and friends from different universities, including HSE students and staff. HSE’s participation speaks well of our sociological community. It provides great opportunities to engage with the wonderful diversity of topics that comprise sociological research today and to meet people who share very specific interests within the field.
— What work did you present at these conferences? How did you start these projects?
— My presentation at the American Sociological Association conference was based on a project I am currently developing with my colleague Dr. Aleh Ivanou, who until recently was based at Södertörn University in Sweden. We started the project last year, within the framework of a research group at HSE (Научно-учебная группа "Социология публичной сферы"). We are investigating the motivations and meanings of two groups of Moscow urban/environmental activists.
The second paper is a theoretical piece that seeks to reflect on the different levels at which care is both configured and constrained. It builds on some previous work that my co-author, Dr. Patrick Brown at the University of Amsterdam, and I have done on a closely related topic. After the conference we received some very useful feedback, which we are now trying to incorporate into our paper.
— What are the main findings of your research? What did you expect and what was a surprise?
— Both projects are still works in progress, so it would be a bit difficult to discuss our findings here. However, I would say the following. As far as the first project is concerned, I have been somewhat surprised by the intricate life trajectories and backgrounds of some of our respondents. Their accounts reveal experiences of suffering (during the 1990s) that are quite shocking. The complexities of settling urban property rights in Moscow and the difficulties experienced by those aiming to advance environmental agendas can be baffling. This is the first time that I have used qualitative data from Russia. Reading and trying to make sense of our interviews has been a challenge, but also a very good exercise in Russian language and culture. Thankfully, my co-author, who is a native Russian speaker, conducted most of the interviews, and has been leading the process of analysis and interpretation.
As far as the paper on care is concerned, it is really interesting to see that compassion has become such a big issue in England in the National Health Service. One interesting question is why this is so - why compassion has been mobilised by different actors as a way to make sense of a scandal in healthcare provision.
— Tell me about your interactions with colleagues at HSE?
— Getting to know and collaborate with my HSE colleagues has been really exciting. There is a very dynamic community at the Faculty of Sociology and beyond, with a lot of people doing interesting projects. I feel fortunate to have these colleagues, and have already learned a lot from them.
— You have been working and living in Moscow for a couple of years. Do you feel like a Muscovite? What do you enjoy and what bothers you?
— I do not consider myself to be a Muscovite, but I do not feel out of place here anymore. Though I have made a point of exploring the city, there are quite a few places that I have not yet visited. Still, I am always happy when I am able to help tourists to find their way around. It makes me feel a bit more at home! Moscow is a fascinating place for a historically-minded sociologist like myself. Take the metro, for example - “that great sprawling beast of history and modernity, marble and mire”, as a recent Philadelphia Weekly piece aptly put it. Air pollution really bothers me though; I wish Moscow was more environmentally-friendly.
— What are your plans for the coming year?
— I plan to keep working on my research stream on care and compassion. I am also working on a comparative project on Russia and Mexico, which has quite a few sides to it. Plus, I have a number of papers in the pipeline, some of which are joint projects - for example, a paper on ethical and academic aspirations in the field of management research with Dr. Ryan Burg from the Management Faculty.
As far as my teaching is concerned, this fall I will be teaching a graduate course on civil society, and in spring I will be co-teaching a new undergraduate course provisionally titled sociological reasoning.
We are organizing a research seminar series in the Faculty of Sociology. This term’s seminar will feature a number of lectures under the umbrella theme “sociologies of morality”. One of our speakers, Professor Emeritus Stephen Mennell (University College Dublin) has kindly offered to teach a one-day graduate workshop, the provisional title of which is "Power, knowledge and civilisation: Norbert Elias's anti-Kantian sociology". Information about the seminars and the workshop will soon be available on the seminar series’ website. I look forward to another great year at HSE.
Anna Cherrnyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service
Research Shows That Creative Workers Are Motivated by Money and Social Guarantees More Than Artistry
Creators are also part of the job sector. Their work is increasingly oriented around commercial activities and in the pursuit of economic goals. As such, the organization of artists’ professional work and the motivations behind it are by no means unique. Rather, they straddle the line between ‘aesthetic’ and ‘market’ concerns.
To get work in a highly competitive environment, freelancers adapt their own routines to the needs of their clients, so they have to work long hours not only during the day but also during non-standard hours, obeying the unwritten laws of online platforms.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. The event recedes ever further into the past, but the legacy of the trauma it caused endures. That stress produced trauma, and the trauma became part of Russia’s collective memory. Sociologists Yulia Belova, Margarita Muravitskaya and Nadezhda Melnikova of HSE’s Institute for Applied Political Research and Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology researched what this means for people who lived in the radioactively contaminated zone around the reactor and why the collective memory of the accident might disappear.
Olga Vilkova, a PhD student of the HSE University's Faculty of Social Sciences, has proved that IT engineers face inequality and discrimination on the Russian online freelance market—websites offering jobs for self-employed people. The researcher analyzed the data on professional success of 54,000 IT engineers registered on the major Russian freelancing platform FL.ru. The research is published in the Monitoring of Public Opinion: Economic and Social Changes Journal.
Well-educated women having three or more children often try to return to work after maternity leave but face penalties for motherhood and 'overqualification', as potential employers offer them lower paid, lower-ranking jobs and treat them as second-rate employees. Some mothers of many children choose to leave the labour market altogether. A paper by Zlata Dorofeeva, Research Fellow of the HSE Institute for Social Policy's Centre for Longitudinal Studies, offers an insight into the career struggles faced by mothers of many children in Russia.
Every year, HSE University carries out dozens of studies on women’s lifestyles, behaviours, and changes in family, social, and economic status in Russia. IQ.HSE editors have selected the most essential trends revealed by these studies about Russian women today.
Researchers Yulia Chilipenok, Olga Gaponova, Nadezhda Gaponova and Lyubov Danilova of HSE – Nizhny Novgorod looked at how the lockdown has impacted Russian women during the COVID-19 pandemic. They studied the following questions: how women divided their time; how they worked from home; how they got on with their partners and children; and how they dropped old habits and started new ones in relation to nutrition, health, beauty, and self-development.
In Russia, 43.1% of the adult population experiences loneliness. This share is comprised mostly of older people, but quite often young people as well. At each age, loneliness is experienced in its own way, and at certain times it becomes especially painful.
Workaholism or work addiction risk is a growing public health concern that can lead to many negative mental and physical health outcomes such as depression, anxiety or sleep disorder. Perception of work (job demands and job control) may become a major cause of employees’ work addiction. The international group of researchers including the HSE University scientist explored the link between work addiction risk and health-related outcomes using the framework of Job Demand Control Model. The results were published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Russian students are not particularly independent or self-disciplined. A recent study shows that this has been one of the problems with the transition to remote learning. Researchers presented their findings at the Sociology of Online Learning session of the international eSTARS conference held at the Higher School of Economics in partnership with the Coursera global platform. In an interview, Ulyana Zakharova — session moderator and research fellow at the HSE Centre of Sociology of Higher Education’s Institute of Education — told IQ how students develop their character, teachers stop being translators and remote learning tests everyone’s abilities.